Ready, Obey, Pray!

I have a buddy. He’s a guy of action. In fact, sometimes he can be so quick to get off the blocks at the starting line, he’s not even sure exactly what the race is. It could be a 100 meter dash . . . could be a half-marathon . . . either way he’s pedal-to-the-medal . . . figure out the details later. Kinda’ not like me. I kid him that he’s a “Ready, Fire, Aim!” guy . . . while I’m more “Ready . . . Ready . . . Aim . . . Aim . . . Aim some more . . . ” This morning, as I continued reading in Jeremiah, my buddy came to mind. I’m thinking Jeremiah would be more like him. My heart was stirred as I noticed Jeremiah’s approach to following God . . . Ready, Obey, Pray!

Jeremiah 32 recounts the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah “in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah” (32:1-2).

So the beginning of the end for Jerusalem, and for the land of Judah, is well underway. The dreaded army of the north, the Chaldeans from Babylon, are taking apart the land once promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God has ordained them to be His rod of judgment upon a rebellious and adulterous people. They have laid siege to Jerusalem. It being only be a matter of time before the walls fall. And, to make matters worse for Jeremiah, he is in the stockade for proclaiming God’s words of judgment against King Zedekiah and the people. Though the Babylonians are breathing down their necks, literally, Jeremiah’s being beat up for predicting that the Babylonians will win the day. Go figure!.

Anyway, the word that comes to Jeremiah in this situation is that he is to buy a field in his home town of Anathoth, which his cousin wants to sell. Ya’ think his cousin wants to sell? If his cousin’s going to Babylon on an extended “exile vacation” better some cash than a piece of land which is being trampled and razed by a murderous hoard. What good will the land do him? If he can find some sucker to buy it, then he’s in! And, in fact, Jeremiah does buy it. He exercises his right of redemption and purchases it. God told him to . . . and he did. It’s only after the deal is closed and the papers are signed that Jeremiah, still in the stockade, goes to the Lord in prayer about this seemingly insane act of buying occupied land just before going into exile.

In effect he says, “God, I bow to You as the Sovereign King of heaven and earth . . . I know You are a just God . . . I know You are judging this land of promise because of the disobedience of Your people . . . I know You are giving this land and this city into the hands of the Chaldeans . . . “Yet You, O Lord GOD, have said to me, ‘Buy the field for money and get witnesses’–though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans” (32:16-25). What? I’m not sure I get it, LORD.

And the LORD responds that He will one day restore the land to His people . . . and His people to the land.  By His mercy, and according to His promise, the field Jeremiah has just bought will again have value when the people return.

So . . . how different is Jeremiah than many of us . . . or at least me? He hears the word of the Lord . . . knows what God wants . . . and rather than pray about it for awhile . . . he just does it. And afterward he prays for greater understanding.  Later, after doing what God wants Him to do, he brings his confusion to the LORD.  Ready . . . Obey . . . Pray!  Shouldn’t I be more like Jeremiah?

Sure, there are any number of matters in which we may not be exactly sure of the Lord’s will or leading.  In those times, we should pray.  If we lack wisdom, we should ask . . . if we are not sure of direction, we should seek the mind of God. But what about those things where we know what the will of God is . . . either because it is explicitly laid out in Scripture or it has been undeniably impressed upon our hearts by the Spirit? Shouldn’t we just respond with obedience and then pray afterwards about any misgivings or struggles we’re having with what God’s asked of us? Sometimes I wonder if we pray, in order to delay. If we “wait on the Lord” because we really don’t want to submit to the Lord. Sometimes we can be Ready . . . Pray . . . Pray . . . Pray . . . and never get to Obey.

O’ to be more like Jeremiah . . . Ready, Obey, Pray.

By God’s grace . . . for God’s glory.

 

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